Thomas Kehoe, piano; Ami Falk, bass; Peter Wellman, drums
I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love With Me
Jimmy McHugh (1894-1969), lyrics by Clarence Gaskill (1892-1948)
Tina Hashemi (b. 1998), lyrics by John D’earth, arranged by Rami Stucky
Have You Met Yourself
John D’earth (b. 1950)
Jon Brion (b. 1963)
A Taste of Honey
Bobby Scott (1937-1990) and Ric Marlow (1925-2017)
Bob Haggart (1914-1998), lyrics by Johnny Burke (1908-1964)
Richard Rogers (1902-1979), lyrics by Lorenz Hart (1895-1943)
Tina Hashemi and John D’earth
About the Performers
Tina Hashemi is a fourth-year student majoring in Music with a Performance Concentration. She discovered her love for jazz through a Rosemary Clooney album in her junior year of high school after having trained as a classical singer. In her senior year, Tina studied under Danielle Wertz and was the principal singer for her high school’s big band and jazz combo directed by Scott Weinhold.
At UVA, Tina participated in the jazz chamber groups and the UVA Jazz Ensemble, in addition to performing locally. She is the president and a founding member of the University Jazz Singers and studied under Stephanie Nakasian and John D’earth. Through her participation in the Miller Arts Scholars Program, she was able to fund many musical projects during her time, including this one. After graduation, she plans to work in a clinical setting as she prepares to apply to medical school and to keep on singing in her free time.
Thomas Kehoe is a fourth-year student from Richmond, VA majoring in Music and Computer Science. Thomas took up classical piano lessons at a young age at the behest of his parents. In high school Thomas joined the jazz band and started checking out artists from the jazz world like Wes Montgomery. Upon arriving at UVA, Thomas halfheartedly decided to audition for the jazz ensemble and was promptly blown away by the music happening at the audition, which inspired him to dedicate himself to learning to improvise and play jazz. Since then, he has played in the jazz ensemble under the tutelage of John D’earth and played with local groups like the Shrugs at venues around Charlottesville. After college, Thomas will be working in Richmond and plans on attending medical school.
Ami Falk is a first-year student studying Cognitive Science and Statistics at the University of Virginia. In high school, he performed in an elite regional jazz band led by bassist Michael Bowie at venues including the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, Blues Alley Jazz Club, and Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. Currently, he plays in the UVA Jazz Ensemble under the direction of John D’earth and studies upright bass with Peter Sparr.
Peter Wellman is a fourth-year Mechanical Engineering major from Midlothian, Virginia. He began playing piano at the age of 5, then learned bass, guitar, and drums in high school. In addition to playing the instruments, Peter fixes old ones and sometimes builds new ones. For the past three years, Peter has been studying jazz drumming with Robert Jospe on a scholarship and performing with the UVA Jazz Ensemble. During the pandemic, he has recorded tracks for the upcoming Jazz Ensemble album at The Sound studio. Peter plans to begin his engineering career at a robotics company after graduation, but will also continue working on personal recording projects and collaborations.
This album features a mix of jazz standards and original music collaborations. Each song was picked carefully for its lyrical expression and/or as an homage to the artists that have influenced me the most. They cover a great variety of styles and I will detail the background and story of each song below:
I Can’t Believe That You’re in Love With Me
This classic 1920’s pop tune was featured on the album that introduced me to jazz: The Rosemary Clooney Show: Songs from the Classic Television Series. The recordings from 1956 were taken live with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra from her self-produced show, where she had artistic control over the standards she sang. The recordings were released as an album in 2004, almost 50 years after being recorded. Clooney is most often remembered for her acting and easy-listening big band style, but I find her singing to be highly artistic in its conversational phrasing and sweet yet strong emotional quality.
In my recording of this tune, I pulled from the big band arrangement structure that states the chorus twice with an elongated A section at the start of the second chorus. It’s a classic, medium swing tune that allows room for re-composition and showcases the traditional jazz swing style through a sweet love song
Blue Champagne was the first original song I worked on, and it was created out of a songwriting assignment to write a melody to lyrics already made. Blue Champagne is a jazz standard that I had never heard but I took the lyrics and wrote my own melody. I worked with Rami Stucky, my mentor, friend, and fellow musician, to pick out the chords I was hearing and create a lead sheet. He ended up liking the melody and arranged it for the Jazz Ensemble to play. The arrangement can be divided into three parts, with the head (which has a simple AA structure) out front, followed by a long improvisation section with just drums and then bass. This builds up into the final montuno section over which the vocals combine with the horns to sing the melody in odd meters. Over the course of recording, John D’earth wrote new lyrics to the melody that gave the song a new feeling – the lyrics deal with an unhealthy relationship that the narrator cannot help but stay in.
Have You Met Yourself
John D’earth wrote this original, dramatic song as a character piece meant to convey a story. It is made up of two contrasting sections, the first a ballad, preceded by a rubato introduction, and the second a bossa nova feel. The lyrics drive the song and highlight the difference in emotion and energy between the two sections. The melody itself is complex as it is very chromatic and color-based, requiring technical skill along with a wide range of emotional expression.
Little Person is a pop song written by Jon Brion for the soundtrack to the movie Synecdoche New York, by Charlie Kauffman. I watched the film during COVID last year and resonated with the lyrics – they describe the human experience of loneliness and finding love and meaning in life. This ballad is a mood piece and leaves a lot of space.
A Taste of Honey
While there are more famous versions of this song done by greats like The Beatles, it is the Paul Desmond recording of this song which drew me to sing it. The jazz reharmonization, transcribed by Thomas Kehoe, transforms the song beyond its pop origins into a modal, more complex tune. The lyrics describe a lover abandoned through old english, and contains themes that give the song the feel of an old sea shanty. The song is performed as a jazz waltz and has the odd structure of ABAB.
In the past year, I have pulled away from traditional scat singing but I did not want to completely let go of my love for improvisation. The second chorus of the recording showcases the direction I hope to head with improvisation that is further from the bebop syllables and more towards sound and timbre based improvisation.
The Marvin Gaye and Billie Holiday versions of this jazz standard stuck out to me. Billie’s phrasing and emotion have been a great inspiration to me – I admire her ability to float over the band while staying in time and to convey heavy emotion that goes beyond the simple lyrics she sings. Her melodic and rhythmic re-composition of songs and ability to turn a simple jazz standard into an original statement is much of what drew me to jazz singing. Marvin Gaye’s version of the tune is so emotionally vulnerable and in the pocket as a medium swing feel, which is challenging to do with this ballad.
I performed the song as a double time feel samba, which allows the melody to have room for re- composition and to float over top of the band. The lyrics describe catching up with an old lover whom the narrator still loves, giving the song a sentimental and intimate quality.
Nobody’s Heart is a Rodgers and Hart ballad that is very seldomly played. I discovered it through one of my favorite jazz albums: Duet by Doris Day with Andre Previn. Doris Day, like Rosemary Clooney, is more often remembered for her acting career more so than her jazz chops, but this album highlights her incredible talent for storytelling and emotional expression. The lyrics of the song describe the narrator’s internal struggle of accepting and celebrating the
fact that she is single, which is shown through the emotion of the song undercutting the literal meaning of the words. The song begins with a rubato chorus out front with just piano and voice, which proved to be one of the most challenging musical components of this project.
I wrote the melody for this original song after moving to a new apartment that I could not remember how to drive home to. I made a bass line figure in 11/8 to remember the correct street, Madison Avenue, and came up with the rest of the melody and basic chord structure later. I shared this tune with John and he wrote a beautiful harmony/chord progression that brought the tune to life, as well as lyrics which describe love and resurrection.
The mixing of this album was meant to sound as “live” as possible, and I chose the takes that had more mistakes but also more emotional intention. The album is a reflection of a live performance and feeling more so than a “perfect” product. I hope you enjoy and thank you for reading and listening!
I am extremely grateful for the guidance and support of John D’earth on this album and over the past few years. Thank you for your patience and constant encouragement through this past year especially, and for allowing me the opportunity to sing with the Jazz Ensemble.
Many thanks to the following people for their support:
Mark Graham, who recorded and mixed this project with incredible patience and excitement.
Stephanie Nakasian, who gave me the skills and confidence to express my musical ideas and organize myself as an artist.
Rami Stucky, who has been my mentor and friend since first year. Thank you for your honesty and excitement for all the work we’ve done together, and for creating such incredible arrangements that I could be a part of.
Danielle Wertz for helping me rediscover my emotional connection to this beautiful music.
All of my fellow student musicians and friends whom I’ve played with while at UVA for your patience, time, and energy, including Thomas Kehoe, Peter Wellman, Ami Falk, Ethan Blaser, Tianyu Zhang, Michael McNulty, and many more.
Finally, thank you to my parents and step-parents for supporting me in my musical endeavors.